in private/independent sector, what is the most nurturing school?(24 Posts)
I would like to know in your opinion, what has been the loveliest, private/independent, most nurturing environment for your children? Somewhere where they met brilliant friends, felt supported, excellent pastoral care, emphasis on self-reflection, sense of community?
Academic creds not essential. Can be mixed or single sex.
I would suggest that the school that feels like that to a child and their parents is the 'right' school for the child's actual academic abilities, rather than the one chosen on status or being able to say 'look at my child' or a child is tutored to the hilt to get in to. It will vary from family to family - no school will feel like is has the right friendship groups, pastoral care etc if it is an academic mismatch for a child.
I've been hugely impressed with Westonbirt School. We moved to the area a few years ago so I did my research mainly online and the Good Schools Guide and picked Westonbirt because of its reputation for being nurturing, child-centred, highest "value-added" etc and it has lived up to its reputation Im glad to say.
It amazes me that people will pay huge amounts for pastoral care. Surely a friendly school with a robust anti bullying policy is enough? Academics much more important IMO.
Perhaps we should assume the OP knows what would be best for their child Fred but glad to hear you know best
Fred, my DS is autistic and two years ago I would have paid ANYTHING for a private education in the right school because most mainstream secondary schools are huge and my child was lost even in a small one. Anti bullying policy or not...my son suffered.
I am lucky as DS is now in a special school which has nurtured him and looked at home as a whole rather than as a collection of targets to be achieved.
I can't answer the OP's question but I defend her right to ask it...you don't know what her reasons for asking are,
Stonar School in Wiltshire is absolutely lovely from a nurturing point of view and is in the most gorgeous setting that lifts the soul, especially if you like horses (riding school facilities are excellent). I always think it's like stepping back in time (in a good way!) when I go there
I think any private school worth its salt will have good pastoral care. The OP'S questions are impossible to answer as it's so personal.
To be honest my dds school meets all the criteria in the OP but it's a state comp.
As I read the OP I was thinking 'Westonbirt' is known for great pastoral care and really good nurturing environment. It felt like a big friendly family when we looked. Then I noticed that someone else had mentioned Westonbirt, so it must be true!
thanks everyone - that's really helpful! We happen to live near Westonbirt!
I wasn't looking in any particular area, I just wanted to know the reputations. We would move to an area to send DS and DD to the right school.
Isn't Westonbirt a girls' school? What happens if the boys school you want is in Northumberland? I think flexibility is a good idea. Although the West Country does have a lot of schools to choose from!
Westonbort take boys up to a certain age. It's known as being a school for the nice but dims.
It's a highly personal issue, so really difficult to advise. Children flourish in schools for all sorts of reasons, and the set up in one might be brilliant for many DC but just wrong for yours.
That said, if pastoral care is top of your list, it's definitely worth checking out the Quaker schools
"the nice but dims"
I hate this sort of comment. There is an important place for schools that take a broader range and offer less academic kids the chance to develop interests, talents and self esteem. It also ignores one sided kids, those who can do either maths or English, but not both, and the late developers. Results depend on the intake as much as anything. The thing to look for with a broad intake school is their range of destinations. If they can get the more able in the cohort to good Universities, the teaching is probably fine. Some children really thrive by being top of the year, rather than average in a very able cohort.
If you are looking at girls schools, Mayfield manages a good balance regularly achieving Oxbridge/medicine places, yet also with great pottery, singing, equestrian and more. i agree about Quaker schools. Presumably historically the Catholic, Quaker and Methodist (The Leys?) schools took a broad intake and focused on the whole child, not just results.
Me too - and, incidentally very inaccurate!!!! There is a new, dynamic head and she has developed Westonbirt as an academic school which still maintains its principles. The school provides for a broad range of academic abilities, including, incidentally, a gifted and talented programme. I'm not particularly impressed with schools which only take children who have proved themselves to be academic, let them carry on being academic without much improvement and then takes credit for their inevitable achievement at the other end (whilst throwing out under achievers at the end of each school year so as to not upset their stats). Much more impressive is a school that stretches each child's potential, whatever their starting point. Under this criteria, Westonbirt scores higher than most as has been awarded best "value added" - meaning the stretch provided for each child from where they started on arrival. Check out their write up in the recent Good School's Guide.
I think it's fair enough that they wanted to reply to the"nice but dim" comment if their kid goes there.
Westonbirt not near us but I know two old girls. One an exceedingly bright academic and the other a savvy woman working in the city. So not sure it is for the dim!
I have just posted a similar response, sorry I can't help but be biased...this school is a hidden gem for parents looking for something unique and different. If you don't mind exploring the South West, try Wells Cathedral School. The moto Esto quod es (Be what you are) says it all. I was at a parent's engagement dinner last night hosted by Alistair Smith, world renowned they have engaged him to develop a unique holistic learning approach in the school. Best of luck!
I live near Westonbirt and have friends with children there who are very happy. However, I think they are struggling for numbers, year groups are very small and they have algae amount of Chinese girls who don't seem to mix. They have just dropped fees and are possible going to change to a more day/flexi approach but that is just rumour.
I'm glad some people love it but it certainly wouldn't be for me.
If you live near westonbirt, how about Monkton Combe in Bath. I know several people who have children there and they all say it's lovely - cheaper than Westonbirt too. RHS Bath also good, but only for girls.
I agree with GuinefortGrey - Stonar is a brilliant school. We looked at Heywood prep (no senior school ), Warminster (didn't like it) and Monkton (Saturday school !!!). We have 3 children at Stonar - dd&s. I think it has been through some tricky times but we joined about 18months ago and couldn't be happier. Admittedly we only have experience of the prep school but fully intend to continue into senior - which by all accounts is going places (newish Head in senior, new investment/facilities etc). We love the prep school (Head been there a while and very enthusiastic) because it involves us as parents in our dds's learning and they seem to have a really switched on way of teaching. The best credit I can give it is that our children love it. None of them ride but the riding centre looks amazing. Now that the senior school is coed we are convinced this is the right mix of academic focus and nurturing. No real gripes.
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